It's been a rough year here. A year ago we were just a few months past The Diagnosis, and I was completely lost. Swimming in research, alien acronyms, byzantine evaluation processes, and all sorts of troublesome behavior from the kid, the last thing on my mind was celebrating the new year. I stared blankly at the dozen or so displays of fireworks visible from my apartment window, bemoaned that that's a lame way to watch fireworks (I prefer being close enough to get hit by hunks of cardboard shrapnel), and cried myself to sleep, thinking about what my life was supposed to be like.
I'm a year wiser, a year more mellow. This year has been a journey inward for me. Ryan is absorbing the lessons of his therapies beautifully, and he has certainly changed a lot this year, but I have, too. I have become more patient. More tolerant. I'm closer than ever to accepting that there are things I just can't control. I've learned that there's more than one way to have a good time in a sprinkler. I've learned who my real friends are. And of course I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about PBS Kids shows.
I've discovered that as different as Ryan seems, his special traits run through all of us. In learning about sensory issues, Stu has come to recognize that he has been living with sensory integration dysfunction all his life. He has always been hypersensitive to taste, smell, sound, and light, but never understood why. My mother has diagnosed my father as having traits of Asperger's. While she teases him a little and enjoys calling him "Spectrum Boy," she admits that seeing him through this new lens blunts some of the frustration she has felt over the years; she no longer takes personally his occasionally inappropriate reactions or what she once perceived as his lack of empathy.
I look at my husband and my dad and their perfectly ordinary adult lives and I am infinitely more hopeful for my son's future than I was a year ago.
This year I will once again be in my own living room as the ball drops, but I will be content. I won't need a fancy party for my celebration. I won't need to hire a babysitter and escape to find happiness. I will drink my rum and Coke and play Wii bowling in my jammies and watch a dozen fireworks displays from my apartment window and marvel at how much I have grown this year. And that will be good enough.
Thank you for being a part of my journey. Writing this blog has been a valuable, cathartic outlet for me. And I find knowing that folks are reading of our adventures on six continents pretty exciting and awe-inspiring. Wishing you all a happy and peaceful new year!